Nominees for 25th Annual Memphis Theater Awards Announced 

The Ostranders, Memphis' annual Theater awards sponsored by ArtsMemphis and Contemporary Media, turn 25 this year. Salud! Let's celebrate with cake, champagne and some controversial nominations. I mean, C'mon. What in the world is going on with the Best Original Script category?

No, seriously. What is up with Best Original Script category? Rebecca Fisher probably deserves a special award for The Magnificence of the Disaster. But is it really fair for the judges to treat a guest artist like Fisher, who has been performing her show for years, as though it was an actual Voices of the South production?

Fisher started work on Disaster in San Francisco in 2005 and staged the completed work at The Marsh's Festival of New Voices in 2006. She’s previously played to sold out houses in Memphis. So it's a little weird thing to throw this Memphis script from somewhere else into competition with original scripts that were first produced locally.

This was actually an excellent year for homegrown playwrights, though that's not reflected in the judges choices. Ekundayo Bandele's Forget Me Not Christmas needed a good trimming but his production at the Hattiloo Theater stunned in fits and starts. Likewise, Kyle Hatley's Lysistrata and the Death of Cupid could have used an editor. But when his self righteous sketch comedy clicked—and it was on more often than it was off— Lysistrata gave the bawdy source material a run for its money

Our Own Voice is constantly producing new material as is Chatterbox, Memphis' new online audio playhouse. And what about Voices of the South who probably should be nominated in the original script category for one of Sister Myotis' Youtube videos or Alice Berry's thoughtful adaptation of Pandora’s Box.

Oh well, the judges are all powerful and can do whatever they want to do I suppose. And frankly it would be a crime to not recognize Fisher for her close up account of life in the spotlight following a brutal Memphis murder. But the way that's being handled doesn't make much sense.

-- Chris Davis

Now on with the nominees, beginning with the college and university division:

Set Design Dave Nofsinger for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis Craig Lewis for Assassins, University of Memphis

Costumes Janice Lacek for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis Janice Lacek for Hedda Gabler, University of Memphis Joyce Bamman for Assassins, University of Memphis

Lighting Design Ben Wheeler for Lysistrata and the Death of Cupid, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College Ken Friedhoff for Assassins, University of Memphis Ken Friedhoff for Animal Farm, University of Memphis

Props Emily Wells for Animal Farm, University of Memphis Emily Wells for Assassins at University of Memphis

Music Direction Renee Kemper for Assassins, at University of Memphis Mark Ensley for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis

Sound Design Eric Sefton for How I Learned to Drive, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College Eric Sefton Lysistrata and the Death of Cupid McCoy Theatre Rhodes College

Supporting Actress in a Musical Katie Preston for The Rocky Horror Show, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College Claire Hayner for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis Shaheerah Farrakhan for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis

Supporting Actor in a Musical Jason Hansen for Assassins University of Memphis Ryan Scott for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis Joe Watts, Jr. for Assassins, University of Memphis

Leading Actress in a Musical Trisha Phillips for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis Kirie Walz for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis Annie Freres for Assassins, University of Memphis

Leading Actor in a Musical Dylan Hunter for The Rocky Horror Show, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College Jared Graham for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis Chris McCollum for Assassins, University of Memphis

Direction of a Musical Stephen Hancock, for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis David Shouse for Assassins, University of Memphis

Musical Production Assassins, University of Memphis The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University of Memphis

Supporting Actress in a Drama Katie Preston for How I Learned to Drive, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College Shannon King for Lysistrata and the Death of Cupid, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College Liz Sharpe for Hedda Gabler, University of Memphis

Supporting Actor in a Drama Jason Gerhard for Animal Farm, University of Memphis Matthew Crewse for Animal Farm, University of Memphis Jared Graham for Animal Farm, University of Memphis

Leading Actress in a Drama Shannon King for How I Learned to Drive, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College Katie Preston for Lysistrata and the Death of Cupid, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College

Leading Actor in a Drama Greg Krosnes for How I Learned to Drive, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College Reginald C. Brown for Animal Farm, University of Memphis

Ensemble Acting Animal Farm University of Memphis Assassins University of Memphis

Direction of a Drama Gloria Baxter for Animal Farm, University of Memphis Wes Meader for How I Learned to Drive, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College

Dramatic Production How I Learned to Drive, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College Animal Farm, University of Memphis

-Playwrighting Awards-

Best Original Script Rebecca Fisher for The Magnificence of the Disaster, Voices of the South Carol Galligan for Killing Louise, Playwright's Forum

Best Production of an Original Script Killing Louise, Playwright's Forum The Magnificence of the Disaster, Voices of the South and Playhouse

-Community Awards-

Set Design Christopher McCollum for Seascape, Next Stage Theatre Memphis Christopher McCollum for Night of the Iguana, Theatre Memphis Christopher McCollum for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis Dave Nofsinger for A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theatre Memphis Tim McMath for Scapin, Playhouse on the Square

Costume Design Andre Bruce Ward for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis Andre Bruce Ward for A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theatre Memphis Ashley Whitten-Kopera for High School Musical 2, Harrell Theatre Luke Hall for Seascape, Next Stage Theatre Memphis

Lighting Design Matthew Strampe for West Side Story, Theatre Memphis Chris Swanson for A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theatre Memphis Matthew Strampe for High School Musical 2, Harrell Theatre Ben Wheeler for Purlie, Playhouse on the Square Michael Compton and Chris Swanson for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis

Props Betty Dilley for Crimes of the Heart, Germantown Community Theatre Robin Black for High School Musical 2, Harrell Theatre Bill Short for The Importance of Being Earnest, Germantown Community Theatre Christopher McCollum for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis

Set Dressing Bill Short for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Circuit Playhouse Christopher McCollum for Well, Next Stage Theatre Memphis Kerry Strahm for Crimes of the Heart, Germantown Community Theatre Melinda Bott & Jimmy Humphries for The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Circuit

Makeup and Wigs Barbara Sanders for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis David Shane Yelverton for A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theatre Memphis David Shane Yelverton for Seascape, Next Stage Theatre Memphis

Music Direction Gary Beard for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis Angelo Rapan for West Side Story, Theatre Memphis Dennis Whitehead for Jerry Springer the Opera, Playhouse on the Square Renee Kemper for The Producers, Playhouse on the Square Angelo Rapan for High School Musical 2, Harrell Theatre

Sound Design David Newsome for A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theatre Memphis David Newsome for Pride and Prejudice, Next Stage Theatre Memphis David Newsome for Pavilion, Next Stage Theatre Memphis Rory Dale for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Circuit Playhouse Eric Sefton for Seascape, Next Stage Theatre Memphis

Choreography Thomas Jones and Keith Patrick McCoy for Purlie, Playhouse on the Square Amy Hanford for High School Musical 2, Harrell Theatre Mitzi Hamilton & Kathy Caradine for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis

Supporting Actress in a Musical Jude Knight for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis Sheana Tobey for The Producers, Playhouse on the Square Cheyenne Nelson for The Pirates of Penzance, Playhouse on the Square Meg Geer for Anything Goes, Harrell Theatre Anita Jo Lenhart, Jerry Springer the Opera, Playhouse on the Square

Supporting Actor in a Musical Kent Fleshman for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis David Foster for The Producers, Playhouse on the Square Bentley Black for High School Musical 2, Harrell Theatre Ken Zimmerman for The Producers, Playhouse on the Square Jesus Manuel Pacheco for West Side Story, Theatre Memphis

Leading Actress in a Musical Cheyenne Nelson for The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Circuit Playhouse Lydia Hart for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis

Leading Actor in a Musical Alvaro Francisco Barned for The Pirates of Penzance at Playhouse on the Square Jim Hopkin for Jerry Springer the Opera, Playhouse on the Square Kent Fleshman for The Great American Trailer Park Musical,Circuit Playhouse

Direction of a Musical Mitzi Hamilton for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis Amy Hanford for High School Musical 2, Harrell Theatre Courtney Oliver for The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Circuit Playhouse Thomas Jones for Purlie, Playhouse on the Square

Musical Production West Side Story, Theatre Memphis Thoroughly Modern Millie, Theatre Memphis Purlie, Playhouse on the Square The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Circuit Playhouse

Supporting Actress in a Drama Jo Lynne Palmer for Pride and Prejudice, Next Stage Theatre Memphis Irene Crist for Orson's Shadow, Circuit Playhouse Tara Lawton for Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Circuit Playhouse Erin McGhee for Seascape, Next Stage Theatre Memphis Sheana Tobey for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Circuit Playhouse

Supporting Actor in a Drama Kent Mathis for The Underpants, Germantown Community Theatre Matt Reed for Scapin, Playhouse on the Square Matt Reed for Seascape Next Stage Theatre Memphis Matt Reed for Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Circuit Playhouse Jim Palmer for Pride and Prejudice, Next Stage Theatre Memphis

Leading Actress in a Drama Irene Crist for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Circuit Playhouse Jade Hobbs for Pride and Prejudice, Next Stage Theatre Memphis Sheana Tobey for And Baby Makes Seven, POTS at the Works Christina Wellford Scott for The Night of the Iguana, Theatre Memphis Aliza Moran for The Underpants, Germantown Community Theatre

Leading Actor in a Drama Justin Willingham for The Importance of Being Earnest, Germantown Jerre Dye for Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Circuit Playhouse Tony Isbell for Orson's Shadow, Circuit Playhouse Dave Landis for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Circuit Playhouse Keith Patrick McCoy for A Lesson Before Dying, Circuit Playhouse

Ensemble Acting And Baby Makes Seven, POTS at the Works Pride and Prejudice, Next Stage Theatre Memphis

Cameo Corey Cochran for A Year With Frog and Toad, Circuit Playhouse Bill Short for The Importance of Being Earnest, Germantown Community Theatre

Direction of a Drama Andy Saunders for The Comedy of Errors, Germantown Community Theatre Pamela Poletti for Orson's Shadow, Circuit Playhouse John Rone for Pride and Prejudice, Next Stage Theatre Memphis Kyle Hatley for Seascape, Next Stage Theatre Memphis

Dramatic Production Seascape, Next Stage Theatre Memphis Pride and Prejudice, Next Stage Theatre Memphis Orson's Shadow, Circuit Playhouse Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Circuit Playhouse

Behind the Scenes Award Jack Page, Harrell Sue Binnie, Playhouse on the Square Alvin Miller, Germantown Community Theatre Gene Cochran, Theatre Memphis

The award ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, August 24 at the Memphis Botanic Garden. Cocktails will be served at 6 p.m.

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